Last night I tweeted that I was feeling pretty down about life and the future just because I happen to be in possession of a vagina.
In the last month, there has been a lot more focus on inequality for women and feminist issues, especially by the fantastic work done by Everyday Sexism against Facebook’s terms on what is and isn’t acceptable to be displayed. It appeared that Facebook had an issue against deeming photos and jokes mocking and trivialising domestic violence and rape as offensive content yet photos put up of breastfeeding or of breast cancer survivors showing the scars of their surgery were taken down.
It was good to see that so many people (not just women) getting behind their cause and forcing Facebook to take the situation seriously. By forcing advertisers to look at whether they want to advertise on the site that passively promotes violence against women through it’s inaction to take a stance, change was finally made. For more of a round up, of the story then here’s a good article from The Independent.
It is good to celebrate a victory for women and equality at last but the sad fact is, we still have to battle. As the centenary of Emily Davison’s death in front of the King’s horse, women are still viewed as inferior to men. Of course, so much has improved in those a hundred years and I am grateful for the effort and lives lost by those women to allow me to be in the position I am in now where I can vote, work and have a reasonable amount of choice over my life.
The battles facing women today are different. Our bodies are viewed as objects, through the way advertisers use women as displays for their products or from the acceptance of many that catcalling in the street shouldn’t be regarded as an issue.
Knowing so many women face ridicule because they choose to not shave or wear make up is ridiculous. Women being afraid to go out in case they get assaulted is not right. The fear of not being accepted because you choose not to adhere to the ideal image of what femininity looks like yet knowing that femininity is often used as a reason why when a woman is sexually assaulted, she was allowing it to happen. If we don’t wear dresses and make up, there’s something wrong with us. If we do and get raped, we shouldn’t have been teasing them with our appearance.
Often campaigns against rape focus on the women preventing and protecting herself rather than trying to tackle the actual cause of the problem- the rapists. It is important that women know to be aware of the dangers but to make these campaigns so focused on the potential victims, makes the argument that we weren’t careful enough or we were asking for it more potent.
Then this week, the announcement of the Conservative Party’s plans to help parents raise their daughters so they have more ambition, especially in sectors which are male dominated have annoyed me. At it’s simplest, the idea of encouraging girls to go into less feminine careers is a good one as it’s trying to break down antiquated barriers of girls can’t be scientists etc. However this leaflet ignores the fact that to be one of these aspirational people, you tend to have to be male. Men do not have to worry about raising their children or doing the housework because they can have a wife to do that. Women are still expected to be the caregivers and until it becomes a choice so that both women and men can choose to either work full time or stay at home, this aspirational campaign is not going to work.
I realise this post is all very negative and the views I’m expressing are my own and not for all women. It just feels that for every battle won, there’s so many other ways women are being oppressed. However, looking on The Guardian’s site today, I saw something that made me feel a bit better.
It’s a photo gallery of different feminist societies across universities in the UK and it made me happy to see that there are so many women and men who want change and are willing to act upon it. From petitions to the Slutwalk, the campaigns may have changes since the Suffragettes, but the message is the same; equality.